It’s late, or early, depending how you view time in IV. I’m blowing smoke into a half-empty Red Tail so it steams like an alchemist’s cocktail. Some days I wonder about this OCD-esque fixation with books and literature I have.
Not today. I’ve been reading Henry Miller. If you’re bumming around Europe with a gray Parisian rain dancing a tattoo on your window, this is the guy to read. His writing is great wherever you are, but it’s got special meaning to those dabbling in the expat lifestyle. Start with Tropic of Cancer, the only book to rival Joyce’s Ulysses for length of time being banned in English-speaking countries. It is also an amazing manifesto, revelation and testament to being human, not to mention possibly holding the record for most uses of the word “cunt” in a major work of literature. I read Cancer a while back and now I’m reading Tropic of Capricorn, the second book in a chronologically reversed trilogy that starts with Cancer and ends with Black Spring.
At times I wonder why I read: entertainment, to pass the small hours, world domination? Then, seemingly at random, I open a book and it hits me. Literature, or at least the best of it, does not merely entertain, pass time or supply a blueprint for super-villainy. It strikes something, a chord, an unidentified part of the genome that rings true to that unquantified humanity in each of us.
Enough bullshit. Drop whatever airport mass-market tripe you’re reading and start Tropic of Capricorn. Bear in mind that Capricorn, like Ulysses or Cancer, is a book that no editor would publish today. It has too much guts. If you think I’m wrong, go look at the new hardcover fiction table at a chain bookstore. See what kind of risks publishers are taking these days. Answer: not many. Glance over titles like Running in Heels by Anna Maxted or Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber by Adele Lang and feel your imagination go into overdrive. Both have bright, beach-bunny yellow covers and, following nicely in the wake of Bridget Jones’s Diary, should attract sufficient numbers of the bored and the shallow (catchy title for a new soap-opera there?) to stay in print. Pseudo-literary panderings like these give Jackie Collins’ novels an air of respectability. After all, there isn’t much doubt about what Jackie Collins is trying to achieve, is there?
Make no mistake. They are all crap. Every last one. You want to make your friends think you’re more intellectual because you’ve switched from daytime TV to Jackie Collins or Adele Lang? You aren’t. There’s no real difference in content between them and “All My Children.”
Since I have now mentioned Jackie Collins in print without a wholly negative endorsement, I must do penance for my sins. Probably with something cheap and charcoal-filtered. Amen.
Fish Report: A freak yellowtail bite in Monterey and the white sea bass have disappeared around the islands again. Still, the sand bass bite is open enough. Where have all the calicoes gone? Try the new zucchini swim baits around the kelp paddies at dusk to hook up to a bull yellowthroat.
And at random, is there anyone out there who has read part or all of Proust? This is a scientific survey. Really. Send your answers to email@example.com, and, if positive, prove it.